UN, French embassy host forum to light a digital pathway for women, girls

(Photo: Anteneh Aklilu)

UN Women Ethiopia and the French embassy together organized a celebration on the international women’s day under the theme ‘DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality’.
The topic sought to depict how technology remained crucial to advancing rights and also in growing the digital gender gap that is impacting everything from job opportunities for women and their safety online.
According to the UN, 37% of women do not use the internet. 259 million fewer women have access to the internet than men, even though they account for nearly half the world’s population.

(Photo: Anteneh Aklilu)

“While recognizing the considerable benefit of digital technology and connectivity for everyone we need at the same time to recognize and urgently address the digital divides that reflect and amplify existing social, cultural and economic inequality,” said Schadrack Dusabe, head of office of UN women Ethiopia whilst delivering an opening remarks on behalf of Dr. Catherine Sozi of UN in Ethiopia, adding that while celebrating international women’s day, the UN in Ethiopia is advocating to ensuring digital power is in the hands of women and girls.
A panel discussion on digital feminist activism and violence in Ethiopia was also held as part of the celebration with panelists representing Addis power house, Ethiopian human rights defenders, Ethiopian media women’s association, Setaset power and Addis Ababa women, and the children and social affairs bureau.
“It’s very important for us to insure innovation and technology as an enabler to sustained development for access to all without discrimination,” said Remi Marechaux, the ambassador of France to Ethiopia, adding, “Women and girls continue to be underrepresented in the development, application, and control of technology. They are much more likely to experience online harassment and violence. We must decide to use technology to create a future that is safer, more sustainable, and more equitable for all.”
The UN emphasizes that if women were unable to access the Internet and do not feel safe online, they are unable to develop the necessary digital skills to engage in digital spaces, which diminishes their opportunities to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) related fields. By 2050, 75% of jobs will be related to STEM areas. Yet today, women hold just 22% of positions in artificial intelligence, to name just one.
Bringing women into technology results in more creative solutions and has greater potential for innovations that meet women’s needs and promote gender equality. Their lack of inclusion, by contrast, comes with massive costs.